It seems fitting that I finished reading Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (a quick and enjoyable read, by the way) this week. Though Mike has made it home in time for dinner every night despite his extended workdays (and an evening spent as part of a tasting panel), I’ve had to get used to going about dinner prep without him there to keep me company. I’ve been a bit off my mark this week as a result – I’ve tried a few new things and have been less than pleased with the results.

Dinner:  August 16, 2007

While my first solo attempt at grilling on Tuesday evening was fairly successful, last night’s eggplant and tomato gratin was disappointing. The eggplants I ordered from FreshDirect’s Local Farmstand were huge, and as such they were a little difficult to work with. I didn’t have time to grill the slices as I had intended, and I didn’t want to fry them, so I salted them and hoped for the best. I also made a last minute decision to skip making a béchamel and just add cheese and cream directly to the layers of eggplant and tomatoes, and that just made the whole thing soupy. The flavors were there, but this definitely needs work.

I’m much happier with the two batches of salsa I made earlier in the week – they may have been my best yet. I grilled tomatillos, tomatoes and poblano chiles over hardwood until their skins were nice and charred, then took them inside until they were cool enough to handle. I removed the husks from the tomatillos and cut them into chunks, then threw them into the blender with two of the poblanos (which I had peeled, cored, and chopped). I added a bit of salt and the juice of half a lime and pureed it, then stirred in half a finely diced red onion and a minced garlic clove. For the tomato salsa, I cored the tomatoes, chunked them up and placed them in the blender along with the remaining poblano (again, peeled, cored and chopped), the juice of a lime, a teaspoon each of ground cumin and smoked chipotle powder, and a bit of salt. Once the mixture was pureed, I stirred in the onion and garlic (in the same amounts as for the tomatillo salsa). I ended up with a little over a pint of the green stuff, and a full quart of the red – Mike’s going to have a nice snack to share with his coworkers over the weekend.

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